A family tragedy

How low can language school directors go?

I'm not only mourning my stepmother who lost her battle with cancer. I'm also mourning the cancer that has pervaded this business--- the cancer of hate, the cancer of politics, the cancer of mistrust. Over the years I have asked myself, how low can this TEFL industry go? How low can language school directors sink? Well, I think I just found out.


Teaching scams

Legendary scams, blacklists and the midnight run

I tested my marketability and checked the options available. My recently acquired TEFL certificate definitely opened up new opportunities. University job offers poured in from China, Japan, Latvia, Poland, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Thailand.


I want your English and nothing more

Human beings first, English teachers second

Most of the students marched lockstep into the manager's office and demanded another teacher. Fair enough. I stepped aside. Was I ready for the seriousness of this class? Absolutely not. I had absolutely no intention of treating this class, or any writing class, with the seriousness that the students demanded. I am a human being first, an ESL teacher second.


The madness to the methods

The often crazy world of teaching in Korea

Despite being sequestered on the furthest border of the Kumi frontier, nearly fifteen miles away from the closest foreign teacher, I am still surrounded by hagwon mania. These private schools are everywhere. Due to all this severe competition, schools habitually search for new angles to draw in students. At times the teaching methods advocated are only passing fads and cheap gimmicks.


We work for the room

ESL ghosts of the past

There's been so many bad experiences, I don't know where to start. Forget the times I was ripped off hundreds of dollars from unscrupulous Korean hagwon owners and Taiwanese recruiters. That might take too long and it's another column entirely. I'm still trying to forget the time when one of the nine million Mr. Kims barged into my class and, in front of the students, told me in Korean what a horrible teacher I was.


Good teachers or warm bodies?

What do we deserve?

I’m guessing that at least one third of all TEFL teachers are underprepared, underqualified or lack any kind of training in their subject. Compounding the problem is the fact that government funding for teacher training/re-training is non-existent.


The staff room

Inside a Korean hogwan

A total of seven teachers work at my school. All of them are Korean except for myself. Three of these teachers can speak English with me, but the others are too shy to do so. Staff meetings are held in the Korean language. I seldom understand what is discussed, but that is my fault for not learning to speak Korean fluently. If I want to learn about the meetings I will talk to the director afterward.


Globilization at its best

Universal applications of ESL teaching approaches and methods

For those of us who have taught ESL in at least three of four different countries realize a major problem. All ESL teaching is local. What works in Thailand can get you fired in Korea. I know that from experience.


Welcome to the heart of nowhere

Running a language school with no teachers

Running a school in an upcountry hamlet is not for the faint hearted. The main sticking point is how to attract teachers. Those already in Thailand are too savvy to leap at the "opportunity of a lifetime" however it's a different matter for those languishing abroad. A guide on how to use the internet to attract teachers to work in the back of beyond. Success guaranteed.


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